Monday, February 11, 2008

Martian Child

Starring: John Cusack, Joan Cusack (of course), Amanda Peet and Bobby Coleman, Directed by Menno MeyJes

As a frequent flyer, I always look forward to movietime on the airplane. It's fun.'s always more fun when they show films that sneak in under the theatrical radar that turn out to be pleasant surprises. But this one wasn't your usual cookie cutter storyline. Nope. In this drama, the quirky premise showcases John Cusack as David, a widower who decides to pick up the pieces of his life by moving on and adopting an abandoned child that believes he is from Mars. Try pitching that to a studio.

With as strange a storyline as this is, it wouldn't have worked if it weren't for the pure talent of Bobby Coleman who plays Dennis, the little foster child. This kid had displayed so many layers to his on-camera acting skills that it was simply effortless to believe. And at the end, isn't that what we all want in our 90 minute escapes? To believe?

There's really not much to talk about in technical terms regarding the movie. You can easily tell why this movie has gotten lost on the mainstream radar. From the cinematography to the editing, sound, etc. it all seems pretty average - that is to say that nothing jumps out more than the other. All of the production elements are on an even keel and were very subdued. Maybe it was intentional, but given the star power in the film, I was hoping for more production value.

The depth of this movie comes strictly from its storyline and acting. "But it's a John Cusack movie! It has to be decent at the least!" Well, if "Being John Malkovich" was a 10 and "Serendipity" was a 7, then this would be a 5. It's good, but it drags a bit here and there. A lot could've been edited from the final cut, which I believe would've helped to juice more emotion from certain scenes.

Best Part
The best part of the movie, aside from Coleman's role, was the perfect use of the song "Mr. Blue Sky" from ELO. It actually made me max out the mono volume in my headset. That was probably the closest it got to a Cameron Crowe moment.

Martian Child is a pleasant surprise with a new angle. The talents of Amanda Peet and John Cusack weren't used, but little Bobby Coleman saves the movie.